MarketWatch is an online news outlet that is almost entirely finance based. In fact, its logo includes the words, “From DowJones”. Its headlines are usually things like, “Analysts bullish on REIT stocks after recent pullback”. So, I’ve always considered it an arm of big finance and bigger business. Yesterday evening, on my MarketWatch RSS feed came the headline, “How to Handle a Debt Collector”. I took another drink of my wine and checked that one again.
Yep, MarketWatch ran an article that included things like:
Have you convinced a debt collector to stop calling? It likely won’t be the end. You may hear from several collectors down the road, thanks to “debt buyers,” which have been springing up since 1989, when creditors began selling debt.
Even more interesting,
Of particular concern: The large number of FTC complaints — 14,700 — that allege debt collectors are harrassing consumers, often by calling them continuously. Also, some 8,000 debt collectors in 2006 were said to have used profane or abusinve language.
The FTC also alleges that debt collectors who obtain authorization to do automatic debts from checking accounts sometimes take more than the amount authorized. Some have even given debtors an incorrect address so letters disputing debts won’t be received. That’s almost clever, actually.
I’d really like to be shocked — but I’m not.
I am a little surprised, though, at the source of the story. I also found it interesting that the FTC is holding a debt collection workshop this October (is that some kind of hands-on how-to session?) which could influence the FTC’s annual report to Congress. (An FTC sponsored debt collection workshop?)
The article also quotes some facts about the collection and repurchase industry that shouldn’t come as a surprise to those of us who work with debt. Debt repurchasers are paying on average 5.3 cents on the dollar for debt. The older the debt the more expensive to collect. Debt collectors have access to data bases that can track you down when you move — as one third of the population does each year. Oh, and those old stand-bys –interest never stops accruing and that is before adding collection fees and attorneys fees. So, the older it gets — the bigger it gets.
I am starting to wonder about my life when I am more surprised by the source of this article than its contents.